Mainstream Media Bias, Exploitation, & Profit (Candace Owens)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Blackout" by Candace Owens. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is distrust of media so high? How and why do mainstream media outlets push political agendas?

Candace Owens says that mainstream media are biased and hypocritical and that they cruelly exploit tragedies to assert their political views. Profit, she says, is at least one of the reasons behind this malpractice.

Continue reading to learn about mainstream media bias, exploitation, and profit.

Mainstream Media Bias

Owens says that mainstream media bias is demonstrated when they hypocritically vilify conservative figures and hold up liberal ones. For example, she points out that the media repeatedly lambasted former President Trump for his Diet Coke vice yet never commented on Obama’s smoking habit.

The Politics Behind Mainstream Media

Owens exhibits a significant distrust of what she considers to be the “liberal mainstream media,” specifically calling out ABC, CNN, and NBC. According to PEW Research, the top five news outlets are (in order) as follows: ABC News, CNN, New York Times, MSNBC, and Fox News. In the name of transparency, we’ll examine the politics of who is currently in charge of each company.

ABC News is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and its CEO recently transitioned from Bob Iger, an outspoken Democrat, to politically-ambiguous Bob Chapek.

CNN is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery, whose CEO is currently David Zaslav. Zaslav took the position of CEO in 2022 and publicly declared that he wishes to return CNN to a more neutral political stance. Rumors have swirled about Zaslav being a staunch Republican and supporter of Donald Trump, but his political contributions indicate that he is a Democrat.

New York Times is owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, and the current publisher is A.G. Sulzberger. His personal politics have been kept under wraps. A media bias website rates the publication as left-leaning.

MSNBC is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal. The CEO is Jeff Shell, and his political contributions indicate that he is a Democrat.

Fox News is owned by Fox Corporation and chaired by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is an Australian-born American citizen and a Republican, although he recently publicly rescinded his support for Donald Trump. Murdoch also owns the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. 

The Escalating Distrust of Media

According to the Gallup polling organization, America’s trust in the media’s news coverage as complete and accurate reached an all-time low in 2016 and has barely risen since. Only 7% of Americans have “a great deal of trust” in the media, and 38% have none at all. It’s worth noting that there’s a partisan divide—57% of Republicans claim to have “no trust at all” in the media, compared with 10% of Democrats. 

The primary reasons that Americans do not currently trust media news reports include:
• Inaccurate information
• “Fake news” or “alternative facts” (two terms coined by Donald Trump)
• Sensationalism and “clickbait” type stories

Mainstream Media Exploitation

Owens says that liberal news outlets exploit real tragedies by hijacking the given story and using it to push a political agenda. For example, when a school shooting happens, rather than focusing entirely on the events, the victims, and the healing, the media outlet will quickly pivot their stories to the issue of gun control. Owens argues that this tactic is manipulative and heartless.

Mainstream Media Profit

Owens says that the mainstream media benefits financially from a liberal fanbase, in large part because the owners are primarily left-leaning themselves. The more Democrats there are, the more viewers the program receives, which contributes directly to the wealth of the (mostly) Democratic owners. According to Owens, the media deepens and expands its Democratic reach primarily by broadcasting stories that demonstrate white-on-Black racism.

Owens argues that the media’s continued coverage and exaggeration of racism perpetuates fear, which ensures the audience’s rapt attention. 

This is particularly evident in the media’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Owens says that the media latches onto stories of white cops killing Black men because it receives an intense response and fills the 24-hour news cycle, but that the narrative is intentionally misleading. She says that, when you look at the actual numbers, white cops are in far more danger of being killed than Black men are. In fact, police are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a Black male than an unarmed Black man is to be killed by a cop.

(Shortform note: In addition to mainstream media, social media plays a large part in the perception of major social issues. According to a 2020 Pew Research survey, 23% of adult social media users have admitted that social media influenced their viewpoint on a social or political issue. When respondents were asked which particular issues came to mind, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement were most commonly cited.)

Exercise: Identifying Media Bias

Owens argues that a critical tool of the Democratic agenda is mainstream media. Consider the media that you consume and see if you can identify any hidden manipulations.

  • In a typical day, how much news do you consume? How and where do you consume it? (For example, social media, TV, newspaper, word of mouth?)
  • Reflecting on your previous few days, was there any news that upset you? If yes, what was it and how did it make you feel? (For example, did you feel worried, angry, or depressed?)
  • Upon reflection of the broadcast, do you remember if any political issues were raised during the broadcast? For example, if you saw a story about a bad car crash, were your Mayor’s policies or political affiliation brought up as part of the story?
  • Take a few minutes to research the news source that you are referencing. Is it left- or right-leaning? Does knowing this information affect how you now perceive the news story, and if so, how?
  • Finally, think of one way that you can adjust your current news sources to reflect a more balanced perspective. What is it? For example, could you replace a biased source with a more neutral one? Or could you add another source from a different perspective to hear both sides of the issues?
Mainstream Media Bias, Exploitation, & Profit (Candace Owens)

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Candace Owens's "Blackout" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Blackout summary:

  • How the Democratic Party has been keeping Blacks poor and needy for political gain
  • How Democratic policies have destroyed the nuclear family
  • Why Black Democrats should jump ship and join the Republicans

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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